Coon Rapids, Iowa, – January 6th, 2020 – Elementary students at Coon Rapids-Bayard Elementary School have been receiving monthly agriculture programs from Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom (LHAITC). This regional effort of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation has allowed over 120 elementary students to learn how agriculture impacts their lives.

One busy day in Coon Rapids brought four different lessons to eight individual classrooms. Each lesson is tailored to the grade level and supports educational standards.

In one lesson, the kindergarten classes discussed a week in the life of a very hungry Iowa caterpillar. This Iowa version is structured after the popular children’s book . Students watched while their teachers, Nicole Esdohr and Annette Nees read through the adapted book. Melanie Bruck, of LHAITC, talked about many Iowa crops and constructed a large paper caterpillar adding one green ring for each day the little caterpillar ate a different crop that grows in Iowa. Eggs, turkey, popcorn and bacon, along with soybeans, cheese, and wheat were some of the things the Very Hungry Iowa Caterpillar feasted on.

The caterpillar continued to eat hay, potatoes, pizza, chicken nuggets, wheat, watermelon, popcorn, cheese, hamburgers, oats, pop, and apples, “But not all of those things grow here in Iowa,” said Bruck.

The story goes on and after chewing through a milkweed leaf, the caterpillar felt better and made himself a chrysalis. Bruck then placed the construction paper prop into a large paper bag. The teachers read about how the caterpillar stayed inside for more than two weeks before nibbling a hole in the chrysalis and pushing his way out. Bruck turned the bag upside down and out “flew” a beautiful Iowa butterfly.

“It’s magic! She made magic!” the kindergarten students shouted.

“No, not, magic. It’s metamorphosis!”, Bruck explained to the students. “Metamorphosis is an act of nature that turns the caterpillar into a butterfly.”   

First graders received the lesson Growing Plants in Science and Literature: More Than an Empty Pot.  Students used the story of The Empty Pot by Demi to explore literature and science, practicing story mapping and learning about the needs of plants and the importance of soil and water. Like the characters in the story, students will plant and observe the growth of seeds.

Second grade learned how to identify and differentiate what foods we eat and if they come from an animal or a plant and third graders applied what they learned about how corn is used and placed 100 individual kernels of corn onto a chart to help visualize percentages.

Lessons like these are available to students throughout a five-county region as part of Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom. Agriculture can supplement core learning. For more information, please visit

About Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom

Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom is a regional effort of the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation (IALF) established August of 2018. It serves school districts in five counties in southwest Iowa including Carroll Co., Crawford Co., Harrison Co., Shelby Co., and West Pottawattamie Co. The IALF mission is to educate Iowans, with a focus on youth, regarding the breadth and global significance of agriculture. IALF serves as a central resource for educators and volunteers who want to teach Iowa's students about agriculture. As leading producer of agricultural products, it is important for all Iowans to understand the essential role agriculture has in their lives. The mission of Agriculture in the Classroom is to "increase agricultural literacy through PK-12 education." An agriculturally literate person is "one who understands and can communicate the source and value of agriculture as it affects quality of life." AITC programs seek to improve student achievement by applying authentic, agricultural-based content as the context to teach core curriculum concepts in science, social studies, language arts and nutrition. By embedding agriculture into curriculum, AITC cultivates an understanding and appreciation of the food and fiber system that we rely on every day. AITC is unique within the agricultural education community as the lead organization to serve the full spectrum of PK-12 formal education.  For more information visit IALF online at, on Facebook, and Twitter.

Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom




Melanie Bruck, Education Program Coordinator

Loess Hills Agriculture in the Classroom